Lawmaker: Kansas needs uniform gun laws

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email

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WICHITA, Kan. -- More discussion is expected next week on a gun rights bill in the Kansas House that would prevent local governments from banning the open carry of legal firearms and setting other gun regulations.

Critics of the bill say it takes authority away from city and county governments, but the bill's sponsor said the idea is to make gun laws across Kansas uniform.

"If someone wants to actually try to exercise their rights, they might find themselves accused of a weapons crime," said Rep. Jim Howell, R-Derby.

Right now, several cities and counties in Kansas have different regulations regarding the possession and transport of firearms. Some state lawmakers, including Howell, want regulations to be the same all across the state.

"The reason that's important is we have hundreds of jurisdictions in the state of Kansas," he said. "If you wanted to travel across the State of Kansas, for example, and you wanted to exercise your Second Amendment rights, I don't know how you would discover what laws are in every various jurisdiction."

Howell said the main provisions of the bill, House Bill 2473, will bring clarity to the state's gun regulations.

"I've discovered that there's a lot of confusion about all these issues," he said. "You might even get a variety of answers in the same jurisdiction."

Wichita already allows open carry and the city said Friday it is not taking a stance on the bill. Howell said, just as with concealed carry, business owners will still get to determine whether to allow guns on their property.

Howell does not believe, however, local governments have authority over rights protected by the U.S. Constitution.

"If they tried to regulate our first amendment rights, for example, say they wanted to take someone's civil rights away in some way; we wouldn't stand for that," he said.

The House Committee on State and Federal Affairs is expected to discuss the bill further Tuesday and Wednesday.

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